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Favorite Shrubs besides Roses?

I'm sure some of the posters on here have dozens if not hundreds of genera let alone varieties of shrubs they love. Would anyone say that above all -aside from roses- you have a top three or so? There are probably plenty of posters who wouldn't put roses in there top three types of shrubs anyway.

Aside from roses, I personally love Correa (Australian Fuchsia), Ribes (Flowering Currant), and somewhat broadly Mesoamerican Cloud Forest shrubs (Deppea splendens, Fuchsia species, and others). If I could lump Deppea splendens in with species Fuchsias that would be my third.

Abutilon, Camellias, Banksias, Grevilleas, and Salvias are genera I broadly enjoy as well.


Comments (48)

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I also have a Sarah Bernhardt peony & Nikko Blue hydrangea.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "Favorites" or those which condescend to do well here with the heat, rotten soil and limited water? Favorites include lilac and daphne, both of which generally require conditions significantly different from what I can provide. "Functional favorites" are hibiscus sinensis (because they flourish here with absolutely no issues and on less water and attention than the roses do), caesalpinia Mexicana (Mexican Bird of Paradise), leucophyllum (because they simply ADORE it here); polygala "Sweet Butterflies" (because it also adores it here); grevillea "Scarlet Sprite" (because it thrives on neglect and hummingbirds adore it). Best of all, these laugh at the heat, rotten dirt, require less water than the roses, have absolutely zero diseases, flower all during the HOT weather and NOTHING eats them. Kim

    The photo is leucophyllym.

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  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Myrtle. both forms, dwarf and regular, Such fragrant and beautiful foliage.
    Daphne odora. Yum. For winter fragrance and blossom its' wonderful.
    Lavender blue dilly dilly.... I grow French lavender which makes huge mounds, Spanish Lavender, that re-blooms quickly, and English lavender too. I love seeing lavender grow beside rosebushes.
    Wild hydrangea.
    Mock orange. Especially now that there is a re-blooming form, we bought ours from
    Citrus grown as dwarf plants in a rose garden for winter foliage interest and the beauty of the fruit on the tree, orange or yellow in winter. I never become tired of being amazed at citrus in winter here in California. I grew up in Seattle in much rain and some snow.
    Sage for the hummingbirds and the fact it is water- wise to very drought tolerant.
    Abelia, another hummingbird pleaser.
    Peonies, although we get too little winter chill for ours to bloom well.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Here'a couple of my favorite non-rose shrubs:

    Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea

    Cora Stubbs Peony

    I have a number of earlier spring flowering shrubs that I like but never get around to photographing--my Bridal Wreath spirea are quite charming and springlike, and the golden yellow forsythia is part of my gorgeous purple and gold spring display (daffs and crocuses and pansies and hyacinths). I love those colors.

    My Annabelle hydrangeas always impress visitors in the first half of the summer, and the flaming rose colored crepemyrtle bushes always liven up the otherwise declining season as we plod through the desert heat of August.

    Wish I could grow lilacs here. They are a rather iffy proposition here--at best, only a 50% chance they will bloom. Perhaps not even that much of a chance. My neighbor keeps struggling to grow them, however, so I can some years get my lilac fix by just leaning over the fence and admiring hers.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I suppose I was mostly sticking with varieties that I know I could grow in this area. I love Lilacs and Peonies, but I can't grow them so I don't really think of them as my favorite plants. If I could grow them and spent time getting to know them I'm sure I would count those amongst my favorite shrubs when asked.

    Of course what can be a shrub here in Coastal So Cal would be a tender annual elsewhere if not grown in a greenhouse, so I have plenty of favorites that aren't very functional in other climates. I know my Deppea splendens would have a tough time in most other zones as even a slight frost would kill it, but barring an unforeseen move it will always be outside.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Your hydranea and peony are spectacular, Kate! I plant the repeat flowering hydrangeas at clients' homes where they do wonderfully, but they all have more moisture retentive soil, more water and less extreme sun exposure than my hill. People down the hill on the canyon grow them out along the street where they flower until nearly September (much more water on the canyon bottom, less heat, more filtered sun). Peonies are "exotics" to those of us who live in the land of endless summer. I do have ONE lilac which survives and actually continues flowering through summer as long as I give it enough water. It's an unnamed seedling. It does hate it here as the foliage never falls, but definitely gets geriatric and SHOULD fall. It's the same issue I have with once flowering, European OGRs. They just get too old and refuse to lose their foliage so they get sick and grow backwards. Fortunately, the lilac just looks like the wreck of the Hesperus until next year's leaves push the old ones off.

    Deppea is gorgeous, Jay! Just over the ridge they can grow, but we get just enough low temps to kill them off here. That and completely insufficient ground water. Beautiful, though! Thanks. Kim

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My absolute favorite is lilac. It ranks as high as roses do in my estimation. I would be very sorry to have a garden that lacked a fragrant Syringa vulgaris. Or two. Or three. Not so crazy about some of the other species that have a peculiar scent. 'Miss Kim' is actually unpleasant to my nose.

    Daphne is nice, too.

    Some of the fragrant viburnums appeal to me.

    I've been growing increasingly interested in conifers lately because of the strong structure and range of greens that they bring to a garden. I would have to include some of the dwarf conifers in a favorite shrubs list.

    I like tree peonies. Do they count as shrubs? Not sure.

    I enjoy some of the sub-shrubs such as santolina and lavender. I also admire our native sages, manzanitas, ceanothus, and ribes. Woolly blue curls, too, if you can get it to survive.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Trichostema always has the strongest sugary-fruit-snack smell to my nose, Rosefolly. I haven't grown it, but I like it too.

    I forgot to mention Lavenders which I like quite a bit. Some hate the smell of Fern-leafed Lavender, but I don't mind it and it stays a bit more compact here. I'm not much for Hydrangeas besides Quercifolias and some Paniculatas, but I planted a 'Snow Queen' Querc for someone in the last year and it looks great.

    For more foliage and texture interest I enjoy Coprosmas, Proteas, Pimeleas, Leucodendrons, and Leucospermums. A lot of Australian flora, but these do quite well here from what I've tried or seen around.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I like deciduous azaleas.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have a common lilic and a mock orange here that I love. Another favorite is a native shrub, Malacothamnus fremontii. Very fast and easy to grow, 6' x 6' or so, always looking nice, evergreen (make that "ever-gray") with wonderful white fuzzy leaves, a zillion enchanting little pink flowers when it blooms. Plus, it needs little water. Another great native is Carpenteria californica, or bush anemone; my camellia substitute.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Although I grew shrubs as a garden novice (obvs, easy, large, flowering), they soon filled up available space in my miniature garden while allotment shrubs were all of the fruiting variety - although who can deny the fabulousness of spring blossom which morphs into fruity deliciousness?). While I remained faithful to philadelphus in that I still have half a dozen varieties, there is one underused genera which I will always have -deutzias. My first deutzia was the dainty little d.gracilis (a cutting from a college trip) followed in short order by d.longifolia, d.discolour, d.setchuensis. Then hybrids such as pink minor (discolour X longifolia), magiciene, d.compacta, d.crenata and the larger d,scabra. I have also grown d.taiwanensis (long-flowering), d.pulchella, d. ningpoensis (love the reflexed flowers).At the moment, I have my greedy eyes on a wee darling - d.Yuki Snowflake. I would dearly like to see deutzias grow in popularity.

    Having alkaline soil, the rhodies of my youth are a fail (thankfully as they are an expensive obsession) but I do yearn for enkianthus, zenobia, stewartias....all impossible dreams in my calcareous soil....but.....having acreage, I feel a creeping sneaky revisiting of a long-ago lust - the mallows. Lavateras, sphaeralceas, malvaviscus, pavonias, anisodonteas, abutilons can jumble together on the sunny banks at the edge of the woods......although I do draw the line at hibiscus - either syriacus or moscheutos which just look .....wrong... under an english sky - while the violet abutilon vitifolium and kitabellas can just about cut the mustard without looking ridiculous.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you for reminding me, Campanula, of the graceful old Deutzia gracilis in the yard of the Victorian where we rented an apartment in the the Hudson River town of Tarrytown, New York. A froth of flowers, but stately, too.

    Too warm here for that, unfortunately, as well as the Clethra alnifolia I adored in Massachusetts. Our house was in the woods there, with native Kalmia latifolia and Rhododendron periclymenoides or "pinxterbloom" which scented the woods from one end to the other at the end of May (so I certainly agree with mondarda about deciduous azaleas, especially scented ones). Sigh.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you Campanula for putting in a kind word for Deutzias. I love so many of these shrubs -- and trees, especially magnolias, but I also have no room to grow them since my garden is an urban postage stamp. Witchhazels, crabapples, philadelphus, zenobia ... ah. And I would love to grow paw-paws, American persimmons, and black walnuts, for the swallowtail butterflies and luna moths they foster. But you can't personally possess everything.

    I adore deciduous azaleas, but only have room for one cherished azalea atlanticum. I did just experiment with planting a chinese quince in a container, however.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I like deutzias a lot but the unknown kinds I've tried seem to dislike by inadequate winter and long summer. Any recommendation for a deutzia more suitable for the Med climate? The common philadelphus coronarius seems to be more tolerant of my conditions although I suspect it too would prefer a chillier winter and a shorter warm season. Local availability of different kind of deutzias and philadelphi is abysmal. You get a label saying deutzia or philadelphus and that's it. You're on your own...

    This post was edited by nikthegreek on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 5:18

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    hydrangeas, peonies, and butterfly bushes!

    For Hydrangeas I have:
    1 annabelle
    3 strawberry vanillas
    1 endless summer

    For peonies I have a bunch the original owner planted and then this year I purchased a few!
    I purchased:
    Karl Rosenfield
    Queen Wilhelmina

    And then I have a bicolor butterfly bush that put out gorgeous blooms in it's first year planted!

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have lilacs, forsythia, hydrangeas, peonies, azaleas, rhodies and a burning bush (that won't burn but only smolders a little in the fall, silly thing). There are also ton's of other bulbs and perennials mixed in all over. I don't have names for most of them because they were Mom's and she never kept tags or records.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Here's what I like:

    Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow - looks so pretty when it blooms

    Fuchsia Gartenmeister Bonestedt - dark leaves, coral blooms, good contrast

    Euphorbia, Tiny Tim - greyish foliage is pretty

    Persian shield is lovely, leaf color is remarkable, "eye candy"

    Blood leaf, another stunning leaf color, easy to grow

    Heavenly bamboo is planted a lot here, but it has pretty color, berries, easy to grow

    Camellias, azaleas are so overdone in my area that I don't care too much about them.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am really fond of flowering shrubs with white blooms and love viburnums of all kinds. A mature doublefile is a sight to behold in the springtime.

    Limelight hydrangea is my favorite of the paniculata hydrangeas that I know about or have grown. I also really like the 'Incrediball' arborescens hydrangea. I don't like the name, but do like the plant. Actually, I like just about all hydrangeas I've ever seen.

    Once I saw a grove of silver birch trees surrounded by white lacecap hydrangeas. It was so beautiful.

    And I really like mockorange shrubs, the scent, the blooms. And then there are lilacs, deutzias, spirea, crepe myrtles, ceanothus, rhodos, camellias, gardenias. A whole catalog of wonderful plants.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Only the toughest ones here, I'm afraid. Marjoram syriacus, one of my favorites, white and purple buddleias, lavender and purple crape myrtles, in different sizes, rosemary, limonium perezii, pelargonium, vitex (the purplish-gray ones) and columnar junipers. That's about it. Dozens of others have come and gone, since this is no place for sissies. Sometimes I'm surprised that I'm still here.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I introduced an edgeworthia into my garden about 5 years ago. I loved it so much that I have taken cuttings from it and this lovely shrub is now taken up occupancy in other beds. A wonderful winter scent when the flowers bloom in the winter. About the same time the fragrant prunus mume is blooming and the scented hamamelis/witch hazels. One can enjoy a fragrant garden in every season. Edgeworthia has been so healthy for me and the foliage is a very pretty green in the summer.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    tree peonies, daphne, Callicarpa all kinds of hydrangea, philladelphus (mock orange) flowering quince!
    If I had the space Korean Spice Viburnum I love the fragrance,

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Without a doubt, Crape Myrtles and Buddleias

    'Catawba' is a violet purple Crape Myrtle.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My favorites include lilacs, hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons, and peonies, especially the trees and intersectionals.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Surely you mean 3 classes of shrubs; I. Those that I grow in the garden, II. Those I have killed trying, and III. Those I Iike enough to tote in and out of the house for decades because they would not survive the winter in the garden.

    I. Survivors
    1.Peonies - tree peonies are eligible, herbaceous are not.I love them both. See how I sneaked that in?
    3.Yew (Taxus) Amazing the effects achievable with these two.

    1. Daphne
    2. Lavender
    3. Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet) Love/Hate. Love the scented, out-of-season blossoms. Hate the sandpapery leaves, overgrown size and 7 years to first bloom, which means I cannot start over in a better place. I may not last that long.

    II. Non-survivors

    1. Camellias
    2. Eucryphia - fragrant, late summer blooming, white flower and evergreen.
      3.Elaeagnus ebbingeii 'Gilt Edge'
    3. Osmanthus heterifolia variegated

    III. Non-starters
    1.Osmanthus fragrans

    1. Jasminum sambac 'Maid of Orleans' The flowers used to make Jasmine tea which is not made with a good enough grade of tea (in my opinion) so I add the blossoms to Orange Pekoe where they dry without molding.
      3.Gardenia jasminoides - not the largest flower but tough and repeating.
    2. Tabernaemontana grandiflora
    3. Brunfelsia jamaicensis - fragrant. These last 2 tolerate almost anything. Repeatedly.

    Almost all of these are highly fragrant, the exceptions being; yew, camellias and Tabernaemontana grandiflora (contrary to its reported fragrance).

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Does anybody in Cal grow Ceanothus impressus 'Puget Blue'? Any comments? Will it like my alkaline chalky soil and Med climate? Could I plant it in my 'just receiving winter rain irrigation' zone? I saw some in a nursery the other day and though I should ask since Ceanothus is a Cal native to my knowledge.

    This post was edited by nikthegreek on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 5:33

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    We certainly grow them all over England, Nik. - from the sprawly c.thyrsiflorus to the tall C.arboreus....they are perfectly OK in Cambridge's alkaline chalky soils.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I prefer shrubs that give me fall color or other multi-season interest...especially "dwarf" varieties for my postage-stamp yard remaining once you subtract the roses, irises, and daylilies.

    Oak-Leaf Hydrangea
    Witch hazel
    Elderberry (especially the ferny European ones)

    Love Viburnum too but I have yet to find a cultivar I love the look of that is also small enough for me.

    Also considering a future dwarf Magnolia.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Nik, I don't grow 'Puget Blue', but do grow multiple plants of 'Ray Hartman', 'Blue Jeans', and seedlings of 'Ray Hartman' (they plant themselves) on a south-facing chaparral hillside in gravelly subsoil that blooms alkaline salts. They get no summer irrigation whatsoever and our dry season is longer and drier than yours. The oldest plants are more than 20 years old. They still look presentable in summer, even so. Some leaves are shed, but they do not go leafless without irrigation.

    In fact, the late Bert Wilson of the incomparable Las Pilitas Nursery, said that the best way to promote long life in a Ceanothus is to not irrigate in summer. Their reputation for being short-lived, according to him, is mainly due to summer irrigation, which they do not tolerate well. One reason for that, I suspect, has to do with their susceptibility to armillaria, the best prevention of which is a long, dry summer.

    Added note: the other deadly factors for Ceanothus mentioned by Bert Wilson are drip irrigation and soil amendments. In general, none of these are good for California natives.

    This post was edited by catspa on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 9:06

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks catspa. I hear ya with regards to Cal native plants dislike of unnatural growing conditions and I can assure you this is equally applicable to many native plants of the Med basin. Irrigate them in the summer and they get sickly and short lived. Fungal attacks is one reason but I suspect that longevity of the summer dormant plants is also affected when not allowed to become dormant due to summer watering. Kind of 'burning out' from too fast a living pace so to speak :) I suspect same is true for some native rose species.

    Competition from weeds that should normally be dormant in the summer may be a third factor.

    Also about soil amendments. I have repeatedly written, here and elsewhere, that there are negatives to go with the positives of mulching and composting. Soil organic content in med-type and semi arid climates is more often than not very low (often less than 2%). When planting plants native to these regions in soil with too much organic content (commonly classed as fertile soil with 5% organic content or more) you're asking for trouble. I don't know the mechanism of this (maybe soil borne disease is involved) but I know it's true in many cases.

    This post was edited by nikthegreek on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 10:03

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hydrangeas, gardenias, azaleas and camellias and my African daisy.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't believe Coffeeberry has been mentioned. Definitely, one of my favorites along with Carpentaria.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hydrangea (Lacecap & Mophead) - Lovely shimmering flowers, all shades of blue. Much appreciated in July when the temps are hot.

    Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' - Greenish flower, blossom to cream and then dry up to ivory and hang on all the way through the winter, reminding one of summer in snowstorms and wind chills....

    Viburnum sargentii 'Onondaga' - Upright - Maroonish green leaves, lovely white flowers. Grows in dappled shade, lovely fall color.

    To kill the monotony of green:
    Black: Sambucus Nigra - Lovely black laced leaves architectural plant.
    Golden/ lime leaves:
    Spiraea japonica 'White Gold'-. Compact mound
    Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis 'Golden Ruby', Lovely chartreuse leaves,
    Red: Technically a tree, A. palmatum var. disssectum crimson queen
    Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'.
    Blue: Rosa glauca, I know you said besides roses, but this one of the most handsome shrubs, I know of rose or not! It's graceful, lovely and hardy.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm extremely fond of ENDLESS SUMMER hydrangea. It is easy to grow, stays compact with pruning, thrives in shady conditions and provided the soil pH is correct blooms in a coveted shade of true-blue. It also blooms on both old and new wood so if I mess the timing of the pruning I don't have to wait two years to see those gorgeous blue flowers during summer. Oh and lets not forget its propensity to repeat bloom. Now if only it were fragrant.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What often does ceanothus in here are lack of drainage, lack of winter rain, excessive sun exposure and summer watering. While they cover the canyon bottoms around here, they are on the sides not receiving much western and southern summer sun, and primarily on those canyon sides where water flows under ground throughout the summer. The dry and hot areas have other shrubs as the ceanothus will not flourish on them. Kim

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Those are some good observations on Ceanothus, Kim. Mine, though on a south-facing hillside, are on the parts of it that are periodically shaded by a very large pepper tree and a very large valley oak during the day. Coastal species, if they grow here at all, want more shade. I killed a large Ceanothus griseus that was here when we moved in by cutting down the tree shading it (no regrets, the tree was the ugliest huge Deodar cedar ever: the top looked like it had been hit by lightening, as unlikely as that would have been here, and it had a pronounced lean, like the Tower of Pisa). Ceanothus do have minimum requirements for winter precipitation, too. 'Ray Hartman' is renowned as a survivor in hot areas.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago


    With apologies for repetitions, I submit:







    mock orange (philadelphus)

    flowering quince


    bridal spirea



    witch hazel


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I love camellias. They do very well here.

    We have some 8-10' gardenias that are older than I am. I leave 'em alone and each summer they bloom for a few weeks and make the yard smell fantastic.

    Sweetshrub/ Sweet Bubby/Sweet Betty has beautifully strange flowers with a wonderful fragrance. There's an Eastern US native & a Western US native, but I think they're pretty similar?

    Hydrangeas do fairly well here- I have a variety of varieties, and they're still getting established, but looking better all the time.

    I also love Serissa japonica- it has charming, dainty leaves, buds and flowers, and is happy here...

    Oh, and I am very excited to be growing a heat-tolerant fuschia that is covered with blooms right now. In July. In South Carolina. Amazing!


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Do you mean favorite shrubs overall? Or favorite shrubs that I can grow here? Not the same, sadly.

    I do like crepe myrtles but here they are small multi-trunk trees. The older ones have beautiful bark. I like how some of them are fragrant, too.

    I like lilacs but they don't like it here. They don't always bloom and the leaves mildew badly in the summer.

    I like azaleas and they can grow here with no help from me at all. What I have is what was here as foundation plantings when we bought the house over 20 years ago. They are overgrowing the spot where they were planted. I wish I could replace them with the more fragrant native azaleas or maybe something else.

    I love camellias and have one that has done well in the past. Last winter the deer stripped every leaf from the shrub and while it did survive, it's an uphill battle for it.

    Some that I would like to grow-
    Chinese beauty bush- that's the old timey name for it, the actual name is kolkwitzia. We had one of these when I was growing up in NE Ohio. It was a taller (7-8 ft, maybe) arching shrub covered with wonderfully fragrant pink flowers with apricot tracings in the throats. The bark would flake off in interesting patterns.

    Oakleaf Hydrangeas- I love the 4 season interest, especially the fall color.

    Fothergilla- fragrant white bottlebrush flowers and lovely fall color

    Chionanthus- also more like a small tree here with an impressive spring showing.

    Those are just a few. I haven't done much with shrubs since deer predation is so bad here and most of the places I have for a shrub are too shaded.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    We can't grow camellias or azaleas well -- too alkaline here. Too alkaline, too, for hydrangeas.

    We grow Brugmansias, and I do enjoy those. And we have a number of Plumerias (Frangipani). My husband particularly enjoys salvias -- and they don't need a lot of water, which is a big deal these days.

    I love fuchsias -- but so many of them are martyrs to fuchsia gall mite -- and I will not spray. So we pick our way along, looking for resistant varieties. 'First Success' (below) is a resistant fuchsia from the Strybing.

    And -- OH -- Epiphyllums! LOVE Epiphyllums!

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    There are so many that I like. I favor drought tolerant/heat tolerant plants that like conditions as they are in my garden, with little to no soil amendments or fertilizer, and onlly light watering. That means plenty of California natives thrive, along with my many species roses and European/Middle Eastern origin roses.

    A number of these plants, both roses and others, want to go summer dormant (and if watered and/or fertilized then they won't be able to rest and often will not flower the next year) as they would naturally in the areas where they are native. Of course this kind of care goes against the grain with lots of rose gardeners in mediterranean climate areas like mine, who are then surprised that roses in these classes won't bloom for them.

    Salvias are in general wonderful here.

    Salvia 'Celestial Blue' is a CA native and has the most gorgeous blue flowers. No pictures I've seen online truly capture the stunning color. Foliage is silvery and smells heavenly. Likes full sun, lean soil, and little to no summer water.

    Salvia dorrii 'Gayle Nielson'. CA native. Desert sage. Foliage is silvery grey green and delightfully scented. Heat tolerant and surprisingly shade tolerant too. Winter bloomer. Has pale lavender flowers. Since it is from the desert where sporadic rainfall may occur, this plant likes a few drinks in the summer.

    Salvia mohavensis. CA native. Newly-planted baby plants last month. I had to wait nearly a year to get them from a specialty grower. Mine haven't bloomed yet but the pictures online show small charming blue flowers.

    Salvia namaensis. Native to South Africa. Has delicate lacy, crimped leaves which are deceptive because this plant is as tough as nails. Extremely heat and drought tolerant. It has lovely small pale lavender blue flowers and blooms almost year round. I have never fertilized it and rarely water now that it is established. My soil is very sandy loam and quite lean.

    Salvia spathacea 'Avis Keedy' (yellow flowers) and 'Powerline Pink'. Both are very shade tolerant and actually need some shade and summer water (not a lot). Powerline Pink in particular has especially yummy smelling foliage (lemony sagey scent).

    Various Salvia greggii and Salvia jamensis or crosses of either or both. Including Salvia 'Hot Lips' (red and white or combination flowers), Salvia 'Elk White Ice' (pure white flowers, heavy bloomer in 90+ degree heat), Salvia 'Elk Lemon Light' (beautiful clear yellow flowers and bright green foliage, nice bushy shape, blooms well in high heat), Salvia 'Mesa Azure' (striking purplish blue flowers, heat and shade tolerant, stays bushy, branches stay flexible rather than going woody and brittle, long bloom period), Salvia 'Teresa' (prolific bloomer, very bushy, lush foliage a nice shade of green, heat and drought tolerant, pretty white flowers touched with pink), and Salvia 'Moonlight' (pale yellow flowers, shade tolerant, heat tolerant, stays small).

    Ceanothus. My favorites include C. spinosus (almost lime green stems and trunk, yep prickly spines, will tolerate some shade, dislikes summer water, grows quickly, pretty blue flowers, bushy), C. cyaneus (aka lakeside ceanothus, absolutely gorgeous 'cyan' blue flowers, wants to be a small tree, grows fast, likes some shade, will tolerate some summer water, very nice foliage, scented flowers), C. 'Lemon Ice' (variagated yellow and green foliage, blue flowers, will tolerate some shade and summer water, small to moderate sized shrub), C. 'El Dorado' (very similar to Lemon Ice, too new to comment on ultimate size), C. 'Diamond Heights' (groundcover!, needs some shade in high heat areas, variagated foliage, small blue flowers), C. 'Arroyo de la Cruz' (bushy and low growing, mine is in a huge pot in partial shade, and seems quite happy, small foliage, gets water once or twice a month in summer), C. arboreus (very fast growing, somewhat shade tolerant, will be a tree, does not like summer water).

    Mimulus, aka monkey flowers! I recently planted 2 and am closely watching their progress. So far they have bloomed heavily and appear to be settling in for the worst of the summer heat. I have M. aurantiacus (sticky monkey flower, peachy color flowers) and M. aurantiacus 'Buttercup' (orangey flowers, which I usually don't like, but I do this one).

    Eriogonum. Wild buckwheat. CA native. I have 3 different kinds, all very drought tolerant. E. fasciculatum 'Dana Point' (has the nicest foliage and prettiest flowers (snow white in color) of all the fasciculatums I've seen--has been smashed multiple times by my big dogs and keeps on growing!), E. parvifolium (seacliff buckwheat, mine has white flowers, but some, depending on grower and where they collected their mother plants, have pinkish flowers), and Eriogonum umbellatum var. polyanthum ‘Shasta Sulfur’ (very low growing, bright yellow flowers).

    Miscellaneous CA natives:

    Asclepias fascicularis (narrow leaf milkweed, very attractive foliage, food source for Monarch butterfly caterpillars)
    Erysimum menziesii (menzies wallflower, in a pot and very happy)
    Monardella antonina (coyote mint)
    Monardella odoratissima
    Monardella 'Russian River'
    Isocoma menziesii (golden bush)
    Penstemon 'Margarita BOP'
    Penstemon grinnellii
    Penstemon 'Electric Blue'
    Penstemon azureus
    Penstemon spectabilis
    Lotus scoparius (deerweed, nitrogen-fixer, yellow flowers)
    Olneya tesota (ironwood, a nurse plant as it is a nitrogen-fixer, eventually a small tree, but so slow growing that will take many years, now a tiny shrub, gets small pea-like violet flowers)
    Helianthemum scoparium (the only CA native rockrose/sunrose, bright yellow flowers)
    Lonicera subspicata (southern honeysuckle, likes to grow in chaparral, white and pale yellow flowers)
    Arctostaphylos purissima 'Vandenberg' (a groundcover manzanita with fuzzy white hairs on the stems and snowy white flowers--needs afternoon shade in hot inland areas)

    Not a shrub, but I have interplanted with them multiple of the CA native, sun-loving, and very drought tolerant grass Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' (eyebrow grass, and the "eyebrows" are blonde). It's a very feathery and delicate looking grass, really lightens an area.

    Photo is of Salvia namaensis.


    This post was edited by Tessiess on Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 18:26

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Anything goes really. Whether or not you can grow something doesn't mean it isn't one of your favorites. And no need to worry about repetition. It's interesting to see the overlap of favorites by geography.


    Great list! I've come across a lot of those recently. I actually bought a gallon size 'Blonde Ambition' Bouteloua last weekend! I really like it. I hope it also does well for me.


    I've stuck mostly with species Fuchsias as they seem less prone to the problems many of the hybrids have around here. I have had pretty good luck with 'Galfrey Lye' and 'Black Prince' though.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Depending on season, and this from an English garden perspective... I think...

    Jan-Apr Daphne 'Jacqueline Postil',

    Mar-May Ribes sanguineum 'Koja', Camellia 'Lady Vansittart'....Ribes odoratum... Euphorbia mellifera..

    May-Dec... Stipa gigantea - Cotinus 'Grace'

    June-Aug Lavatera 'Mary Hope'... Cistus obtusifolius 'Thrive'

    July-Sept Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom' and 'Limelight'..

    June-Dec Eugenia 'Etna Fire'...

    Pittosporum 'Collaig Silver' - all year

    ..these are my favourites at the moment that I grow in my garden..

    one I don't because I don't have room or the right conditions, is Rhododendron loderi 'King George'...
    I would be so envious of anyone else who had it...

    love reading these kinds of threads... not sure if mine are relevant to American gardeners.... but I just remember one I've left out which is a Californian native is Ceanothus 'Gloire de Versailles'... flowers for me June-Sept and I just love it... in fact I've got

    This post was edited by Marlorena on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 10:58

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I like many of the varieties of Japanese Spirea. Many of these have attractively colored foliage, bloom, ... and are easily managed for size.

    I also like Bridalwreath Spirea for a focal spot.

    I like Forsythia for early and bright yellow spring bloom.

    I like French Lilac for the spring color and fragrance.

    I like Flowering Almond for its bright pink spring bloom.

    I like Smokebush for the rather unique SMOKE and it's color in the landscape.

    I like Hydrangea for its mid to late summer blooming.

    I like Fothergilla and Witch Hazel for Fall color.

    I like Winterberry for its bright and cheery red berries which brighten up the Winter landscape.

    I like Juniper, Yew, and Mugo Pine for evergreen touches.

    This post was edited by aegis500 on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 23:42

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    One I forgot to mention is Alyogyne huegelii. I don't know what cultivar this is, but it's been at my parents' house as long as I can remember. Very drought tolerant when established as it never really gets watered and wonderful color from the blooms. Pictured below.


    Some of the favorites strike me more as small trees, but there is always wiggle room. Some might consider Michelia alba a large shrub. If so, that is one I love. Heavenly fragrance.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Alyogyne does grow well here, where it receives enough water and lack of frost, but your photo is of a double Hibiscus syriacus (Althea or Rose of Sharon). They grow almost anywhere. I had quite a few in Newhall from my grandmother's plants from Birmingham, Alabama. They root so incredibly easily and grow beautifully even up in the Antelope Valley and even into areas where deeper cold occurs. This hill is so dry, I have to water them regularly or I'll lose them. When I worked at the beach, we had a 48" boxed Michelia champaca alba which flowered much of the year. When in flower, the entire parking lot was scented with the most amazing fragrance! It had elements of pineapple, gardenia, jasmine, citrus, banana and much more. I sold the dickens out of smaller sizes simply by leading people to the big one and leaving them alone. How I wish I had the water and continuous warmth on this hill for one! Kim

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Never being able to find a cultivar that matched up with what my mom mentioned as Alygoyne makes sense now Kim! Thanks! It did seem like an Althea, but she mentioned remembering the genus Alyogyne for whatever reason.

    It died while I was in high school or just starting college, but there was a great Michelia in our backyard that I'll never forget. My parents got one because a neighbor had one that died before they planted theirs in the early 80s. Now, someone down the street seems to have two very strong specimens that are a delight to walk by. There's also a much smaller Michelia figo next to the to albas. I haven't caught it in bloom yet.


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You're welcome, Jay. Alyogyne is the Australian Blue Hibiscus, and there is also a white one with needle like leaves. Figo is nice and it honestly does smell like ripe bananas, but it's much less complex and amazing as Champaca's scent. It also flowers for a much shorter period where Champaca can go for MONTHS where it's happy and established. Kim

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hmmm... I have a couple of Michelia figo plants that need to go in the ground come autumn. The flowers really do smell like bananas, but slightly more floral.

    The Michelia champaca alba sounds pretty amazing, but even if I could find one around here, I'm not sure how much winter protection it would need...

    I really like Althea also, but don't have one yet. It's a popular plant around here, though, so cuttings shouldn't be hard to obtain.

    Some nice mentions in this thread- thanks!